Royal Tiger Gamble- Steyr M1888/95

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  • MilsurpDan

    Active Member
    Feb 1, 2012
    Frederick County
    I’ve been closely following the entire Royal Tiger (aka I.O.) Ethiopian Cache thing for the past couple years. I’ve always wanted to order something from them, but I’ve heard horror stories about their shaky history, and the condition of the rifles didn’t match the prices that they were asking.

    A lot of the stuff has really interested me though, especially the Italian and Austro-Hungarian stuff since they were captured and reissued.

    I finally gave in around Christmas, so I ordered a Steyr M1888/95. It was part of a gift, so I didn’t really have any money invested in it anyway. I also got the handpicked option. These rifles are super rare, and not much information is known about them other than they were a wartime conversion. Worn out M1888 barrels were replaced with new ones and had updated M1895 style sights. A handguard was added but none of the RTI guns had any.

    After WW1, they ended up with the Italians, either having been captured during the war, or given as war reparations. The Italians then sent them to their East African colonial forces. After they surrendered to the British during WW2, the Ethiopians kept them.

    It arrived quickly, and I have zero complaints about how fast RTI processed the order, shipped and packaged it.

    It was probably the dirtiest firearm I have ever touched. Years and years of dirt and grime in every single crack and crevice of the rifle. Took me probably 20+ hours of cleaning to get it presentable. Soaking the parts in Kroil, then scrubbing them off with bronze wool and a brass brush helped out greatly without messing it up.

    I’m pretty happy with the end result though. It’s got some small pinprick pitting on it, but it wasn’t that rusty when I got it. The muzzle doesn’t swallow a bullet, and the rifling is still pretty strong, but it’s pretty pitted throughout. Not sewer pipe bad, but not good either.

    Literally zero finish on it remaining. Rifle is fully functional though and feeds/chambers/ejects old surplus ammo that I have. I’ll have to get some brass and find a way to load some 8x50r for it and try it out.

    Either way it was a fun project.



    Feb 12, 2011
    I have been leery of RTI too but you seem to have gotten a nice rifle with a lot of history. I miss getting those old, grungy rifles and spending the next four days taking them apart and cleaning every piece.


    Active Member
    Feb 1, 2012
    Frederick County
    Thanks guys! I think when I get more time/cash I might order something else from them. I’d like to get one of the M1895’s or a Vetterli next.

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